Friday, July 31, 2020

Prepare to be baked!

The rules are simple

Apparently, the reason for the last minute changes in large parts of Northern Britain are because people were not following these simple, easy to follow, rules:-)

Legally, up to 30 people can gather.
But official advice remains that people should avoid socialising outdoors in a group of more than six – except if two large households are meeting.
Two households can also meet indoors – including in a pub or restaurant – but should not touch each other.
The only exception to the touching rule is if you have formed a ‘support bubble’. This is when two households merge. This is only allowed if one of the households is either an adult living alone or a single parent with children under 18. You cannot change the members of a bubble, and if someone gets ill both households must isolate.
You can stay overnight in another home – including at a holiday home or second home – but you should only be with one other household. You must maintain social distancing.

People should either stay two metres apart or ‘one metre plus’.
‘One metre plus’ means if the gap is below one metre ‘mitigations’ must be made to help prevent transmission.
‘Mitigation’ usually means wearing a mask – they are mandatory on public transport, in hospitals and in shops.
Employers have been told staff can be within two metres of each other if it is not practical to keep them further apart but they must ensure measures are in place to protect staff. These can include screens, facing desks away from each other and ensuring there are lots of hand washing stations.

Damn it, even the PM doesn't understand the rules. He has been  pictured bumping elbows with strangers at. less than 2m apart without wearing a mask. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Boris' best friend

Boris Johnson is convinced that having Dilyn, the rescue dog, helped him recover from his dice with death. Taking Dilyn for walks has also helped him shed the pounds.

No 10 has therefore announced that the government will provide £50 vouchers to help people to own their own dog. The voucher can be used in several ways; for vet's fees, to buy items like dog baskets etc or to pay for a rescue dog.

So, you can enjoy 50% off meals out during August, £50 off cycle repairs and now £50 to help you own a dog thanks to your caring Prime Minister. 

PS Even though I've made the story about dogs up, you could have easily believed it couldn't you?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

On the 15th August, Pam and I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I think you will all agree that 50 years of marriage is quite some achievement. A lot of things can happen in half a century. Thankfully Pam and I haven't had too many crisis to deal with and we are blessed with two wonderful daughters who have helped us enormously along the way. We also have good friends and two grandchildren who have greatly enriched our lives.

So, as I say, time to celebrate.

Plan A: We investigated a “once in a lifetime trip” and eventually agreed that, sailing to New York on the Queen Mary, staying a few days in a 4 star hotel and then flying back would suit us well.

There are any number of companies that offer this trip and many options. With careful research, we discovered the right time of year, the better deck to choose, the luxury options to pick etc etc. Apparently, it is better to sail from Southampton to New York and then fly back to Gatwick.

We then looked at the logistics of getting from our home in Spain to Southampton and back to Spain from Gatwick which, as you might expect was not going to be straightforward. We also considered whether it was feasible to have our family join us. In the end we gave up on the idea.

Plan B: Our son-in law suggested that we might like to combine our celebration with our youngest daughter and his 40th birthdays. So we investigated options for a family holiday in Mallorca where we had enjoyed a couple of luxury villa holidays before. We also considered a Mediterranean cruise but found it was almost impossible to suit everyone.

Plan C: Eventually, we agreed that a city break in Paris in May would suit us all. Pam and I booked a large modern flat in the centre of Paris through AirBnB. We booked flights from Alicante to Orly and the rest of the family made reservations on Eurostar. Everything was paid for and organised and then along came coronavirus. Thankfully, we were able to get refunds for our accommodation and travel. 

Plan D: It became obvious that we would have to celebrate here in Bigastro. The decision to impose a 14 day quarantine on anyone returning to the UK though was making it impossible for any of our family to join us. Then there was a chink of light. Spain was considered a safe destination so our eldest daughter and her friend booked flights. Pam made plans for celebratory meals and booked a special one for the 15th.

That was until yesterday when the UK Government made a U turn and decided that Spain was no longer safe and that passengers from our country would have to self isolate for 14 days on their return. Well thank you Mr. Why could you not simply test everyone arriving from Spain and only make those who test positive go into quarantine. Test them twice if necessary. Thousands are already here and many more have bookings to come here – plans, including ours,  are in tatters.

Plan E: We don't have a plan E. As Pam said, we spent our honeymoon on our own, looks like we'll be doing the same for our 50th anniversary. As I pointed out, there is a difference!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Commemorative items

In spite of the cancellation of the Fiesta this year, there will still be a book that you can buy. Also, Eduardo Navarette has designed commemorative masks which people in Bigastro have sewn. 

Sometimes the truth is funny

A man died and went to heaven.
As he stood in front of St Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked,
"What are all those clocks?"
St Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on earth has a Lie Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."
"Oh," said the man, "Whose clock is that?"
"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."
"Incredible," said the man. "Whose is that clock?" pointing to the next one on the wall.
"That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have only moved twice, telling us Abe told two lies in his entire life."
"Wow!.. So Where's Boris Johnson's  clock ?
"His clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fiesta update

Message from the Mayor - Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez:

It is a tradition in the town of Bigastro to celebrate the patron saint festivities in honor of San Joaquín during the days close to August 16. A tradition that has filled the residents of our town with joy and satisfaction for 227 years.

Every year, the town of Bigastro dresses up and celebrates the devotion to its patron saint with a program of cultural and religious activities that are part of the hallmarks of Bigastrenses.

For months, our nation and the entire world has been experiencing an unprecedented health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and affected millions of human beings. A crisis that today is still latent and evolving negatively despite the prevention and health security measures that the authorities have implemented.

In the current situation, in which we are aware of hundreds of new cases of daily infections throughout the national territory and especially in relation to the area of ​​influence of the Department of Health of the Vega Baja, it is necessary to take exceptional measures to protect the health of Bigastro's neighbors.

The current conditions of mobility of the population, which allows free movement throughout the territory, make it even more necessary to take preventive measures to prevent the spread of infections in our municipality.

The current safety and hygiene standards published by the competent health authority and which are mandatory for the entire population, require the mandatory use of protective masks, prohibit the celebration of acts of worship in the open air and limit the number of people who they can focus on public and private events.

Given the regulatory scenario described and in application of the principle of prudence, it is necessary to avoid the mass concentration of people who suppose the celebration of the typical public acts of the Patron Saint Festival in honor of San Joaquín.

With great regret I am forced to suspend the celebration of the patron saint festivities during this year for all the above and with the awareness that the measures to be adopted are not desirable, but necessary for the protection of the health of the residents of our town. , and with the hope that next year we will be able to carry out the celebration of the patron saint festivities that are the emblem and pride of our people.

During the last weeks, the festivities council, together with the festive commission, the San Joaquin brotherhood, the parish and the SUMB, have been preparing a program of events adapted to the norms. A program that we must suspend due to prudence.
I thank all of them for their effort and work despite the difficulties involved in carrying it out with the necessary security measures.

With my best wishes for health and happiness to the residents of Bigastro, receive a cordial and affectionate greeting.

Viva Bigastro and Viva San Joaquín

From today

From today, people in England will be required to wear a face mask in shops. The confusion which I wrote about has now been cleared up.

Unless you are in a restaurant, bar or cafe that has seated accommodation, you must wear a mask in food outlets. And of course, you must wear a mask in ALL shops, banks, Post Offices etc.

Here in Valencia, it is simple. Only when you are seated in a bar, restaurant etc, actually eating or drinking can you remove your mask. In all other situations, in shops, banks and in the street, you are obliged to wear a mask. You don't need to wear a mask when you are sat or lying on the beach, taking exercise or swimming but you must wear one on the way to the beach and back including if you go to buy a drink or food.

I know from some of our friends in England that they are not happy about the idea of wearing a mask The plan was to make people feel more secure about going out but in some cases that may have backfired. Some have told us that they will no longer go out to shops if it means wearing a mask.

We know that a mask does not protect you from picking up the virus but it does limit the possibility of you transmitting the virus to others. In other words, masks are only effective if everyone wears them. Your mask protects me and mine protects you.

People with breathing difficulties or other medical conditions that would make wearing a mask difficult are exempt both here in Spain and in the UK.

I read a comment this morning from a reader in one of the UK papers saying that he was NOT going to wear a mask and if challenged would claim he had a medical reason to be exempt. You can imagine the response he got from other readers.

Let's face it, masks are not the most comfortable things to wear and are a nuisance to those of us who wear glasses. However, if they help to limit the spread of this awful virus and reduce the number of people dying, then we will put up with them. It was the same when the law required people to wear seat belts in cars; there were people who objected. It should not take the threat of a fine to make people do the right thing. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

The band returns

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Just to clarify

Councillor Barceló added that the use of the masks will be mandatory even on the terraces of the bar/restaurant premises when not eating or drinking and said that the fact that we sit at a table on a terrace does not mean that we should not wear masks. She stressed that its use is also recommended in private, open or closed spaces, where the social distancing cannot be guaranteed or in company of those who are not from the same household.

To avoid confusion the mask should cover the nose, mouth and include the chin but not all masks will be authorised, only hygienic and surgical masks can be used. The masks with the exhalation valve are prohibited.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Important - take note!

The Minister of Health, Ana Barceló has announced this noon the mandatory use of a mask in outdoor spaces, closed spaces for public use or open to the public  from today throughout the Valencian Community, regardless of whether you are maintaining a safe distance or not

Barceló says that infections are quadrupling in the age range between 20 and 40 years, as a result of private parties and not maintaining security measures during nightlife. This population group does not usually present symptoms, which leads them to a false sense of security and to the relaxation of preventive measures. Barceló has reported that there are 20 active outbreaks in the region, "which are being followed up so that they remain locked down."

The increase in cases has led the Ministry to take this measure and decide on the mandatory use of the mask, which will take effect from today when the order of the Ministry of Health is published, both on public roads and in outdoor spaces, except in swimming pools, beaches and natural spaces as well as in hotels and restaurants while consuming food and beverages. It will not be compulsory for people who carry out physical activity and people with respiratory problems or in other cases of dependency or disability.

In the Vega Baja, the Ministry of Health has confirmed in the last ten days four new cases of COVID-19 infection, one case in the Orihuela Health Department and three in the Torrevieja Department.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Can you help me?

The UK Government has belatedly decided that wearing face masks in public is a good idea. The aim is to restore confidence and get people spending money again in shops etc. The problem is that their announcements are confusing and yet again, they are giving out mixed messages.

Michael Gove said that wearing a mask should be a matter of courtesy and was then photographed without one on his trip to pick up a take away breakfast. Others, visiting the same take away, were wearing their masks.  Who was right?

Matt Hancock, who had previously made no distinction between shops and take away food outlets felt it necessary to back track on his statement. He now excludes take away outlets from the rule.

I hope I have got this right; if you are going to a  proper shop e.g. a supermarket, you must wear a mask. If you fail to do so, the shop keeper or assistant can call the police who could decide to fine you £100. However, if you are a Government Minister going to Pret a Manger to pick up your take away breakfast, you don't need to wear a mask.

OK, we need to be clear. For the benefit of lesser mortals, am I right in assuming that a humble fish and chip shop would be classed the same as an upmarket take away? What about going into the newsagent to pick up my copy of the Sun and a packet of Woodbines or to the chemist to buy “something for the weekend”?

Can you see where I am going here? We need to know if what you are buying or the time you spend in the premises are the deciding factors.

Michael Gove might not be phased by a £100 fine but the majority of the country would struggle to pay such an amount. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In 2016, the British people were told that leaving the EU would be the simplest deal to conclude. Leaving would bring rich rewards beyond everyone's dreams. Not only would the country regain its sovereignty, it would be free to negotiate fantastic deals with countries outside of Europe (including China). Oh and by the way, there would be £350m per week for the NHS,

Now we know that none of that is true. So far Brexit has cost the country over £130 billion which is more than the total payments made to the EU over the past 47 years. Worse still, that sum is expected to rise to £200 billion by the time Britain leaves.

Apart from intangible notion of regaining control, has anyone actually told us what the enormous benefits of Brexit will be that make spending such an eye watering sum worth it?

The British public were repeatedly told that a NO DEAL BREXIT was not on the cards, that Britain would negotiate a  free trade deal  with zero tariffs, zero paperwork - no need for a border between the mainland and Northern Ireland because the EU would blink first during negotiations. Now talk is of an Australian style deal in January which is a clever way of saying NO DEAL.

We now know that any hope of  fantastic deals with China are off the table because of  the U turn made on allowing HuaWei to supply components for the 5G network. It took the threat of a rebellion of back benchers, sufficient to overturn the 80 majority, to bring that about.

Turning away from Brexit, let's consider the response to coronavirus.

The initial plan was to do nothing. Let the virus spread so that a “herd immunity” would build up. Of course there would be deaths but they would be among the vulnerable and the elderly so a saving on pensions and benefits as a bonus.

Because of government cuts to the NHS budget, there were insufficient supplies of test kits. The result was that elderly patients were sent back from hospitals to care homes without testing. Not surprisingly, many were carrying the infection which they then spread to others resulting in an unacceptably high death rate.

Test and trace had to be abandoned because of insufficient supplies, meaning there was no way of knowing how the virus was spreading.

In spite of a ready made tracking app being available, the UK government decided to spend over £100m developing its own app that turned out to be a failure. No matter, change the slogan from Track, Test and Trace to just Test and Trace.

Many countries applied lockdown during the early stages of the pandemic but not Britain. The rules  in Spain for example have been clear from the start. In Britain, you could go out to exercise once a day for as long as you wanted and as far from your home as you pleased. You could even go out and sunbathe. It was acceptable to leave your home and go for a drive to test your eyesight but only if you were a special adviser.

In March the wearing of face masks was not only a waste of time but counter productive. A few months on and it is obligatory to wear face masks on public transport and will soon be obligatory in shops.

Almost weekly, the messages change. Is it any wonder that Michael Gove says something different to Boris Johnson and both say something different to Matt Hancock.

Whatever you do in Britain, don't make plans for the future because things could all change before they come to fruition. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Check out your town

Dave Frazier, who lives on the other side of our estate,  has kindly sent me this link to a site that shows the statistics for coronavirus in the Valencia region.

As Dave says, "Although we still seem to be reasonably okay here in Bigastro I know from a friend who is a practising doctor in Albatera that virus numbers are again on the increase and from today she is advising we wear a mask at all times when out and to carry some type of sanitary gel purely as a precaution ......... some people are becoming complacent and are not following the rules."

That is so true. When we were in the early stages of lockdown, everyone you saw in street wore a mask. They would queue outside shops at a 2m distance. People were taking the threat seriously.

Now there are more people in the streets but fewer of them are wearing masks. The young seem to have adopted wearing their masks on their elbows as a kind of fashion statement. Good to see them with a mask but placed on your elbow, it will do nothing to protect anyone.

We need to remind ourselves, coronavirus numbers may be dropping but it has not gone away. The way it spreads is by transmission - give it the means to pass on from person to person and it will soon come back in a second wave. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Social distancing

Did Boris Johnson really believe that people would observe social distancing once the pubs were reopened?  In village pubs it may have worked but it was clear that in city centres rules were going to be ignored. To be fair, with the number of people out, it would have been impossible to stay 1m apart let alone 2.

If the lack of social distancing was the only issue that would be bad enough but as the night rolled on  scenes of carnage  in places like Leeds, London, Newcastle etc became the norm.